Boca Raton Bowl Report

Benjamin Schiller wrote this article. Ben is an aspiring sports journalist and a student at a middle school in West Boca.
Yesterday was the first ever Boca Raton Bowl game. The two colleges that matched up against each over were the Northern Illinois Huskies versus the Marshall Thundering Herd. FAU Stadium hosted the bowl game.
The Boca Bowl fan fest started at 3:00 PM. There were tons of activities. They had obstacle courses and games for kids and some adults. They also had a merchandise stand and plenty of tents. Some tents were giving away mini footballs and free drinks. The attendees really enjoyed themselves, this reporter included.

"FAUStadium night" by Jerseydem
“FAUStadium night” by Jerseydem

Then, the gates opened around 4:30. There were not a lot of people in the stadium yet because many were still enjoying their fan fest experiences or in traffic. We sat in the end zone. Marshall’s Kicker was practicing field goals. There is no net behind the goal post. Since there was no one there yet, we chased the footballs.
At 5:45 they started to do the regular sporting event ritual. Navy Seals flew into the stadium with parachutes. They honored Howard Schnellenberger, whom the field is named after. Schnellenberger (80) was the FAU coach until 2011, and had a substantial coaching career including a national championship at University of Miami.
Howard Schnellenberger
Howard Schnellenberger by MerlinsMagic

Opera singer and West Palm Beach native Madison Marie Mcintosh performed the National Anthem as the Navy Seals unraveled the 300 foot flag. Mayor Susan Haney and Coach Schnellenberger did the coin toss at mid-field. NIU elected to receive the opening kick.
Then it was game time. The first score ever in the Boca bowl happened mid way through the quarter. QB Drew Hare of NIU threw to Juwan Brescacin for a 19 yard touchdown to put the Huskies of up on top. Then, on the very next play, Deandre Reaves of Marshall tied the game by returning the kick for a 93 yard Touchdown along with the extra point that was kicked into the crowd behind the goal post. The Marshall fans were loud and cheerful.
Four minutes later, Marshall’s QB Rakeem Cato ran the ball into the end zone for five yards to make the score 14-7. Cato earlier in the season was talked as a potential Heisman Candidate and he is projected to be drafted in the upcoming NFL draft in the spring.
Rakeem Cato - "Cato12" by LetsGoHerd - Own work. Via Wikipedia
Rakeem Cato – “Cato12” by LetsGoHerd

Now let’s fast forward to the second quarter. After Marshall and NIU made one field goal each the score was 17-10 (Herd). Then with about five minutes left before halftime, Devon Johnson of Marshall ran the ball for a two yard touchdown with an extra point. Seconds before halftime Christian Hagan of NIU, made a 30 yard field goal as time expired.
The score at half was 24-13 (Marshall). Both colleges’ marching bands performed on the field. The lines at the concession stands were packed. It probably would have taken you 20 minutes just to get a hamburger and fries. Good thing we ate at the Mississippi Sweets stand pregame by section 129. The pulled pork sandwich with BBQ sauce is excellent. They also had no line at halftime.
In the third quarter NIU decided to kick an onside kick and successfully recovered it. Mid-way through the quarter Marshall’s WR Tommy Shuler caught a 6 yard pass from Cato for the touchdown. The Marshall fans screamed “Shoo” for Shuler, which sounded a bit like “Boo.”
Then after a score for Marshall and NIU, the score at the end of the quarter was 38-20 (Herd). That was when tons of spectators decided to go home with the doubt that NIU wasn’t going to come back by three touchdowns.
Within a few seconds in the beginning of the fourth quarter Deon-Tay McManus of Marshall caught a 27 yard touchdown pass from Rakeem Cato. Then after an NIU field goal and a Marshall Touchdown, the game was over. The final score was 52-23. Marshall was the victor in this contest.
Here are some stats from Marshall:
QB Rakeem Cato- 25/37, 281 pass yards, 3 pass touchdowns, 2 rushing Touchdowns, and 25 rushing yards.
RB Devon Johnson- 131 rushing yards with 1 touchdown
WR Tommy Shuler- 185 receiving yards with 1 touchdown
K Justin Haig 1/1 field goals and 7/7 extra points
Northern Illinois stats:
QB Drew Hare- 15/27, 225 passing yards, 50 rushing yards, 3 passing touchdowns.
RB Cameron Stingily- 76 rushing yards and 1 touchdown
WR Juwan Brescacin- 40 receiving yards and 1 touchdown
K Christian Hagan- 3/4 field goals and 2/2 extra points